2-minute dog trainer, Tempest week 4

Tempest is 12 weeks old today. When do we stop counting weeks and start counting months?

There are some behaviors which are becoming standard for Tempest, including: 1) sitting in order to exit a crate or pen, 2) sitting for attention IF people will allow it (it’s harder to train people than it is to train puppies), 3) coming when called (I use “T-come!” for his formal recall practice, and “Let’s Go!” as a general yard recall), 4) being quiet in his crate.

I started putting Tempest on the baby teeter a week ago. He was a little fearful, though he enjoyed the string cheese.

When he showed concern about the heavy, wide teeter I introduced him to my footstool, leaving it in his ex-pen. He had no problems with the wobbly footstool, and quickly fell asleep with his head resting on it. (When you’re afraid of something, dominate it by sleeping on it.)

I left the footstool in Tempest’s ex-pen for a week, allowing him to interact with it freely. After a week I went into the pen with Tempest and the footstool, my clicker, and his lunch.

I lured him straight across the footstool, he hopped up and over willingly, got his click-and-food.

I repeated this a couple of times, never asking for more than bravery in his interaction with the footstool.

A couple of days ago I returned, with Tempest, to the training teeter in the agility building. All indications of concern had disappeared.

Tempest boldly walked across the teeter, chasing the cheese, bracing himself for the drop, riding it down, and chasing the cheese.  My click was timed to mark Tempest’s footstep which caused the drop.

Over and over, Tempest drove toward that footstep, pushed the board down, got his click and cheese.

After he was performing the behavior boldly and consistently, I started calling it “teeter!” He got very excited and sped up his performances, back and forth, back and forth.

His increased excitement puzzled me until I had a brainstorm — the word teeter sounds enough like T to make him think I’m saying his name. I’ve been conditioning an excited response to his name, so it makes sense that he’d transfer that excitement to the word “teeter!”

I’ve been considering using “T” as my dog’s cue for conditioned behaviors. For example, with Dash, as we’re running an agility course, I’ll often just indicate the obstacle and say “Dash!”  His response is to perform as he’s been conditioned to do, with his name indicating “pay attention to this obstacle.”

Hmmmmm …. food for thought.

In the meantime, Tempest has doubled in size. At his vet visit on June 1 he weighed 17 pounds. He’s going to be  more stocky than Kory, though they share their sire’s DNA. Kory is built like Keen, the sire. Tempest seems to have picked up more of his dam’s physical characteristics and will probably be shorter and stockier than Kory.

Both Tempest’s sire and dam have prick ears. Tempest’s ears are currently in a perfect half-fold. There’s a possibility he’s a throw-back to his grandsire, “The Fireman,” who was a black tri with really strong brown markings and folded ears.

I’m encouraging the folded ears by occasionally flipping his ears back, creating a crease in the cartilage. This is the method I used with Banner’s ears — she had a nice half-fold ear, and a rose ear — by folding the rose ear backwards the crease developed over time. By the time she was 9 months old she had two nicely folded ears.

But I’m not overly concerned about how Tempest’s ears turn out. I’m not going to be doing the chewing-gum or glue business to force the ear into a particular set. This should be interesting to watch …

In four weeks Tempest has had just one accident in the house. I paid too little attention, and left him loose in the house for 2 minutes too long. He walked to a dog-bed and started to squat. I caught him mid-stream and took him outside to finish.

Before that incident, and since that incident, no other accidents. I’m being pretty watchful, especially if the doors are shut and Tempest is trapped inside the house, but he appears to be choosing to potty outside. He’s also vocalizing to let me know he needs to go outside, or get a drink of water, or get a meal, etc.

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2 Responses to “2-minute dog trainer, Tempest week 4”

  1. Teri Says:

    love the pic of sleeping T!

  2. Laurie Says:

    What a wonderful picture! I still remember all those weeks of “remedial teeter” with Wilbur. Reading about your adventures with T is giving me puppy fever. Must resist… 🙂

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